- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 12, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - State officials said they are setting up a process in which Iowa inmates will be enrolled in a public health insurance program upon their release from prison.

Katrina McKibbin, an assistant deputy director for the Corrections Department, told The Des Moines Register (https://dmreg.co/1oMsEhx ) that the new effort is intended to help former inmates cope with life outside prison and obtain services, such as mental health and drug addiction treatment. Such an effort would help the inmate and the public, she said.

“We want success. We want increased public safety,” McKibbin said.

Iowa releases nearly 4,000 inmates each year.

The initiative is possible because of the federal Affordable Care Act, which has funded an expansion of Iowa’s Medicaid program through the creation of a Health and Wellness Plan. Most adults previously didn’t qualify for Medicaid, but single adults now qualify if they earn less than about $16,000 annually.

The initiative is a combined effort between the corrections and human services departments.

Prison officials will help inmates complete applications soon before they’re released and notify human services officials so coverage can begin when inmates are paroled.

“That is not in place yet, but it’s very, very close,” McKibbin said.

Officials are working to change the current application for the Health and Wellness Plan, which asks whether an applicant is incarcerated. If the person answers yes, the application is denied.

State officials also have been encouraging people who have recently been paroled or released from prison to consider applying for public-supported health insurance.

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, https://www.desmoinesregister.com

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